THIS year’s BETA International saw young and talented apprentices and trainees competing for the top awards in the Society of Master Saddlers’ competitions over the three days.

Always a popular draw for visitors to the trade fair, the apprentice competitions bring a lot of interest to the Saddlery Pavilion to see the range of leather work being made.

The Worshipful Company of Saddlers kindly donated the prize money once again and their continuous support is much appreciated.

After its success over the last two years, the SMS once again had entries from one of the classes of its National Saddlery Competition available to view and vote on over the show. This year the class theme is for entrants designing and making any leather item incorporating traditional hand stitched Box Work techniques.

Said Hazel Morley of the Society of Master Saddlers: “Once again it was a fantastic three days at BETA International with a brilliant standard throughout the daily competitions.

The apprentices and students taking part on Sunday made a High Ring Grakel Noseband which was completed in six hours.

During the awards presentation, the audience were in admiration of the students’ achievement when told earlier that day they started with just strips of leather at 10am.

Competitors who are training at the Saddlery Training Centre and who took part were Amy Baldwin of Saddler’s Den, Merseyside; Freya Weller of David Dyer Saddles, Kent; Samantha Wuczke of RB Equestrian, Buckinghamshire and Rebecca Simmons of Pegaso Saddlery and Leatherwork, Buckinghamshire.

The top award went to Rebecca Simmonds with Amy Baldwin claiming second place after judges, Master Saddlers Helen Reader and Catherine Baker had made their deliberations.

Said Rebecca: “This is the third year I have taken part in the competitions and to win is just fantastic.  To get the noseband finished in the time frame and with visitors asking questions and showing an interest, it was tight but it is good to experience working under pressure.”

On the Monday, second year Capel Manor College students included: Emily Cain, Molly Grout, Zoe Hurst and Scarlette Branch who made a Plain Cavesson Noseband from the Level 2 Bridle Skills Assessment.

The winning award went to Zoe Hurst, who was a last minute replacement, with Emily Cain taking the runner-up place.

Said Zoe: “I really enjoyed taking part and the win is such a bonus as I wasn’t supposed to be competing.  The £150 prize money is just fantastic.”

They were followed on Tuesday by first year Capel Manor students who showcased their leatherworking talents by making a Bridle Headpiece.  The students included Katherine Hinchliffe, Alexa Parlour, Charlotte Cheesman and Michelle Bogaerdt.

And after careful thought and study, the judges chose Michelle Bogaerdt’s entry as the winner with Charlotte Cheesman taking second place.

Information about the Society of Master Saddlers and on training in the saddlery field can be found on the website:

www.mastersaddlers.co.uk or telephone 01449 711642.

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